Call Centers. Telemarketing. Purchasing Advice.
Collect Customer Feedback
Before you start shopping for the right call center, collect direct feedback from your customers. Whether they logged complaints or comments through voicemail, or you took an informal survey through phone or email, take their suggestions to heart. Your customers are your most valuable asset. Make a list of their top concerns so you can address them and provide the best possible customer experience.
Always meet with multiple vendors. You don’t want to accept the first offer that crosses your desk. Give each company a fair shake to ensure you get the best mix of quality, price, and value. Do your own set of research about the companies. See how long they have been around and what their core values are. Read customer testimonials and contact references to find out what their experience was like. Also, find out how comprehensive each customer service offering is. This is a serious purchase and you should feel 100% comfortable with the company you choose.
Get various price quotes depending on the workload. Even the busiest of companies hit lulls where the call volume isn’t as strong and conversely seasonal periods where you can’t even keep up with the amount of calls. Make sure the vendor provides you with prices for the various shifts in call activity.
Much like when you buy a new car, you’re not going to be swayed solely by the specs listed on the window. You’re going to want to test drive the vehicle yourself. It works the same for call centers. Sit down and listen in on actual calls to hear how they interact with customers. Also, see how the call center manager works with agents to streamline the process so the agents always offer top-notch customer service.
Do you use another customer management solution such as CRM? Make sure the call center offers reporting formats that are compatible with your software. A vendor will be able to tell you up front if it is and help determine what integration tools you need (if any).
It can be tempting to select the call center solution with the lowest price tag. But often times “you get what you pay for.” While it can be a costly investment, skimping on a few hundred dollars early on can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to your business. It’s important to assess your customer service needs and determine which vendor offers the best solution.
It’s not easy to hone in on a direct price point for call center services. For round the clock service, you will pay by the minute or by the hour for each agent or call. The overall price will depend on the setup of your solution, the number of calls that come in, and any other services you need such as multiple language support or script assistance. As with any other business, you will pay a premium to work with the most experienced companies and best of breed agents.
Your costs can depend on the amount of direct attention you get from agents. Blended (or shared) agents that work for several different companies at once will cost considerably less than dedicated agents that focus just on your business. You’ll pay about $1 per minute for blended agent service or a basic answering service.
For the focused approach towards your business, dedicated agents become more familiar with your company’s practices in order to better communicate with your customers. These agents are paid hourly and will cost you between $10 and $25 per hour.
Regardless which avenue you take, always keep in mind other potential expenses such as training, reporting, customized voice mail, and software integration. Most vendors will provide service for email and live chat, but you may pay extra for agents who are well skilled for those tasks.
Be sure to check the contract for all details before signing anything. It should list the price you agreed to pay, the services you will receive, and the amount of time you’ll work together. In addition, it should detail your service level agreement (SLA) which will outline penalties the vendor must pay if they don’t live up to standards such as achieving a certain percentage of call volume or adhering to your company policies. You may pay extra for added items in the contract but it’s worth it as long as you get everything you want in writing.
One thing you want to budget for is a special phone number the call center will use. While the call center provider will offer to set one up for you, you don’t want to be tied down to their restrictions for its use. Owning the number outright will allow you to change providers if you need to.
In addition to an outsourced call center for your inbound calls, a telemarketing campaign for your outbound calling efforts can be a boon to your business. Check out our Outbound Telemarketing content or submit a free request for quotes today!